...Or between lovers


The unwelcome sound of the doorknob rattling drew Stefan Cassadine’s attention away from the faxed document spread neatly across his desk.  He had been called away from Wyndemere to handle a transportation problem that mysteriously appeared and threatened to interrupt the delivery of several vital shipments of essential pharmaceutical supplies.

Stefan schooled his features so that his anger did not show.  Both his uninvited guest and his negligent secretary would feel his displeasure, however.

“Uncle!”  A familiar little figure wriggled through Stefan’s barely opened door.  “Uncle!” Mikaela Ward cried happily, “It’s me!”  Three-year-old Mikaela raced across Stefan’s office and threw herself onto his lap.  She was clad in burgundy pants and a white cotton shirt.  A matching burgundy ribbon gathered up her sandy curls. 

“Hello, Stefan.”  Mikaela’s beautiful mother Faith followed her young daughter into the office.  She, too, was clad in burgundy and white.  “I apologize for my little wild woman.  Despite what she just demonstrated, she actually does know the meaning of proper behavior.”

Stefan rose with Mikaela in his arms.  He bussed Faith on the cheek, much to the little girl’s amusement.  “Do not apologize,” Stefan demurred.  “To be greeted with such genuine enthusiasm could never be an offense.  What brings you to Port Charles?” he asked.  “I was not informed that you were scheduled to visit.”

“A family thing came up.”  Faith followed Stefan to the spartan couch along the wall.  It was black leather, designed for functionality, not indulgence.  “Of course, when a certain little girl found out we were headed to Port Charles, she made me promise that we would come and visit you.”  Faith glanced over at Stefan’s desk.  “It seems we caught you at a busy time, though.”

“Never.”  Stefan gave Mikaela a gentle squeeze, eliciting a trill of childish laughter from the little girl.  “I would be foolish to bypass an opportunity to enjoy such unbridled enjoyment of life.”

Stefan’s choice of words amused Faith.  “Unbridled enjoyment,” she repeated.  “Very diplomatically put, dear heart.  You may call it that now, but wait until Mikaela is eight and all her energy becomes daring.  Or when she is sixteen and it becomes defiance.”

Wisely, Stefan chose not to comment on Faith’s endearment for him or her seeming indication that he would be a part of Mikaela’s life as she grew older.  Neither one meant that Faith was ready – or willing – to assume the role in his life that Stefan desired.  “Are your predictions based upon personal reflection?” he asked instead.  “Like mother, like daughter?”

“I don’t deny,” Faith conceded, “that I might have given Granny Mae a few sleepless nights.  But even if Mikaela were nothing like me, she is enough like her father to guarantee that she will be a handful.”  Faith glanced at her daughter and smiled wryly.  “She already is.”

Stefan abandoned any pretense of nonchalance.  Mikaela’s parentage was a subject he and Faith had never broached.  His half-sister Sabrina had taken matters into her own hands and conducted a DNA test on the little girl without Faith’s knowledge or permission.  The resulting damage to the women’s friendship had not fully been repaired.  “Mikaela’s father?”

“Daddy’s in heaven,” Mikaela announced.  Idly the little girl fingered Stefan’s medallion through the material of his finely pressed shirt.  “Daddy’s an angel.”

Faith chuckled.  Stefan threw her a quizzical glance.  “You had to know Michael to understand,” she explained in response.  “It would have made him laugh to hear anyone use the word ‘angel’ in a sentence about him.” Her gaze grew distant for a moment and she appeared lost in reflection.  Stefan was not sure how he felt about the pain he witnessed in Faith’s eyes during that unguarded moment in time.  He had no time to consider it, however.  Faith’s emotional barrier fell back into place and the opportunity to explore it was lost. 

With visible effort, Faith straightened her shoulders and continued with her conversation.  “Michael was one of Granny Mae’s original Ward House kids,” Faith recounted without emotion.  “Granny Mae used to say, ‘If I can survive Michael Trevanian, I can survive anything’.”

Stefan recognized the name.  “Michael Trevanian, the Olympic gold medallist.”  It was not really a question.  Trevanian’s name had appeared on the private investigator’s report into Faith’s background, but no connection had been made.  The handsome blonde daredevil had won several medals for downhill skiing in the previous winter Olympics. He’d dropped out of sight soon afterward.

“Yes.”  Faith stared at Stefan for a few seconds.  “Don’t make me regret telling you, Stefan.  When you begin to dig into the details of my life again,” she glanced at her daughter, “as we both know you will, remember that it is Mikaela’s life that will become the media circus.”

Stefan’s eyes darkened.  “There is a way to ensure your privacy,” he proposed.  “Share your life – and your heart – freely with me.” Stefan was unconcerned that his words verged on emotional blackmail.  “Then I will, as you say, have no further need to dig.”

~ Port Charles, Same Time ~